Earlier this month, Mayor Ed Murray signed landmark legislation focusing growth and affordable housing in the University District. The mayor was joined by City Councilmembers, neighborhood advocates, and local business owners to celebrate the more than five years of community-driven conversation to help shape growth and public investments in the U District. The legislation was a key recommendation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.
The ordinance will focus growth in the core of the neighborhood, near the UW Campus and the new light rail station which opens in 2021. This will put more homes and jobs within a short walk from frequent transit, revitalize the business district, and provide thousands more homes for our growing city. The City and neighborhood have worked together to create a shared vision – new and expanded parks, pedestrian safety improvements, support for the local business district, and more affordable housing. By directing growth to the core of the U District Urban Center, it reduces impacts to surrounding neighborhoods.
For the first time, Seattle is implementing Mandatory Housing Affordability. All new development in the U District will contribute to affordable housing – either by providing it on-site, or by making a payment to the Seattle Office of Housing. Over the next 20 years, the U District will generate between 600-900 new affordable homes for lower-income individuals and families. And the ordinance also includes other public benefits: historic preservation, childcare, public open space, and street improvements, as well as incentives for providing schools, performing arts spaces, and room for social service organizations.
Now the City and community will begin to create new neighborhood design guidelines to ensure that as the U District changes, the buildings and open spaces create a sense of place that reflects what residents love about the neighborhood. The first meeting will be held at tonight, 5 p.m. at the U Heights Center.